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​ARP ESSER Guidance on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Act 24 of 2021 appropriated approximately $250 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief (ESSER) State Reserve funds to school districts and charter schools to address gaps in students' learning and social and emotional wellness through the implementation of evidence-based interventions. Those interventions should respond to students' social, emotional, and academic needs and address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented student subgroups. Thirty percent (30%) of each local education agency's (LEA) allocation must be used to address the social, emotional, and mental health needs of students. When planning ARP-ESSER spending, it is important that LEAs adopt a systematic approach to planning social and emotional learning (SEL) and behavioral health supports. This SEL Decision-Tree is designed to help LEAs decide how to use ARP ESSER funds to improve learning environments through SEL and mental health supports. While LEAs may use their own frameworks for planning, a cyclical planning process is recommended to help teams set goals, identify ways to improve, and evaluate change. This "cycle of continuous improvement" includes distinct activities at each phase. This guide is focused on the first three phases of that process: Set, Assess, and Plan.   

Three step flow chart. Step 1 Set the direction. Step 2 Assess SEL and Wellness Needs. Step 3 Plan and Allocate Resources

Before you start, review the PDE Accelerated Learning toolkit and "Fostering Supportive Learning Environments" webinars. This resource from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) on LEA-wide implementation includes many useful embedded resources and examples of LEA-wide SEL in action. 

Please use the SEL Decision-Tree Guide below which is designed to help LEAs decide how to use ARP ESSER funds to improve learning environments through SEL and mental health supports. Each phase of the decision-tree provides a series of guiding questions to be used by the LEA to ensure that ARP ESSER spending is approached in a manner that is evidence-based, sustainable, and integrated with other initiatives.



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Phase 1: Set The Direction

Have you formed and prepared a team to oversee equitable and trauma- informed SEL planning for the LEA?

Phase 2: Assess Needs

Has a team gathered data on organizational self-care or equitable systems of support?

Has the team thoroughly assessed staff and student wellness needs to identify priorities?

Is the team familiar with the concept of "tiered systems of support"?

​Phase 3: Plan and Allocate Resources

Set goals to address SEL priorities. Goals may include new programs/strategies or approaches that enhance SEL or wellness practices that are currently in place. The plan should reference data and include goals/strategies targeting staff and student SEL and utilize a tiered approach. Goals and strategies should be equitable and trauma-informed.

Staff Supports

Did the team identify data-driven goals/strategies to address the SEL and wellness needs of all staff?

Did the team identify data-driven goals/strategies to address the SEL and wellness needs of staff impacted by trauma or experiencing significant levels of stress?

​Student Supports

Did the team identify data-driven goals/strategies to address the SEL and wellness needs of all students?   

Did the team identify data-driven goals/strategies to address the SEL and wellness needs of students impacted by trauma or experiencing significant levels of stress?

Staffing for SEL and Wellness

Does the LEA have adequate staffing to meet staff and student SEL and Wellness goals?